It’s amazing how often we can let numbers control our lives. The other day I learned that occasionally ignoring numbers can make me feel happier.
I enjoy road cycling and mountain biking in the summer. My husband and I headed out for a ride recently, and I noticed that my cyclocomputer (the speedometer and odometer for the bike) was not working properly. I have a new one ready to be put on the bike, but it takes more time than I wanted to put into it at the moment. I took the broken cyclocomputer off my bike and set out with Paul to ride.
Usually when the two of us ride, he rides and front and I draft behind him. (If you’re not a cyclist, drafting is when one rides close to the person in front of them, so they experience reduced wind resistance, making it easier to ride.) For some reason, I set out on this ride in front of Paul this day.
Within the first mile, I must have looked down a half-dozen times to where the cyclocomputer display usually sits. My habit of looking at the display became quite evident when there was nothing to look at!
We had a route in mind when we set out, but the weather in the direction we were headed looked dark and rainy. We decided to play the ride by ear and make a decision about which direction to go at each intersection. We ended up following one of our usual routes, just in reverse.
After five miles, I felt rhythmic in my riding. I felt strong and confident, and I was having fun.
Paul shouted out encouragement at one point, not quite half way through our ride. “Doing great, babe!” I thought, “I am? Cool!” After all, his cyclocomputer was still working, so he knows how fast I’m going, and Paul likes to ride faster than I can usually go.
With his words fresh in my mind, I stopped worrying if I was going too slowly. I enjoyed the new view on our old route. It always amazes me that a riding route can look so new by just following it in the opposite direction. I saw the farms in a different light, as the sun was slowly setting over their fields. I saw the central Oregon Cascades as we headed east on a road where we usually ride west. It was gorgeous!
I continued to ride at a pace that made me feel strong and challenged. I felt comfortable and confident, which is not always the case when we’re out on a ride.
With just seven miles left, I started to feel my legs fatigue. I almost gave up my captain’s position to draft behind Paul, but decided to stick it out in front. I made it this far, why not keep it up?
As we cruised towards home, I felt strong, happy, and a little tired. I felt alive. I love when exercise does that!
We pulled up the driveway, and I dismounted my bike. I queried Paul for our average speed. He told me, and I was shocked. “That slow?!” For a moment I was disappointed, then I decided to let it go. Who cares? I pulled the whole way, and I had fun. I enjoyed the whole ride because I didn’t know what my speed was. If I had known my pace, I would have been beating myself up for going so slowly.
So this is what I learned:
* When I look at the numbers, I judge, evaluate, criticize, and focus on how good or bad I’m doing.
* When I have no numbers to watch, I enjoy the ride and feel strong and confident. I have a feeling this idea can be applied in many areas across life.
Where could you stop checking the numbers and start having more fun?